The Braves are 15-8 and there’s a lot to be excited about. Ronald Acuna Jr. looks like an MVP again, Sean Murphy has come over even better than advertised, the rotation looks unhittable, and the rest of the team is finally getting healthy again. Most everything is going right … outside of one outlier — Marcell Ozuna.
Now, I want to preface this article by saying I am not an Ozuna hater. I have been understanding of why the Braves have hung onto him for this long, despite his concerns both on and off the field, and I even predicted he would have a bounce back campaign in 2023. I thought he could flirt with 30 homers as the team’s DH, but I’m doing the right thing now and admitting I was wrong.
Ozuna is cooked, and if he still has anything left in the tank, he’s not going to find a second life with the Braves. He’s been abysmal for three straight seasons, and we’ve gotten to the point where he is met with a chorus of boos every time he steps into the box. Ozuna looks unconfident at the plate, and the results speak for themselves.
Through 63 plate appearances, The Big Bear is hitting a paltry .073. He’s striking out in nearly 30% of his at-bats and almost has grounded into as many double plays as he has hits. It’s ugly.
Ozuna ranks dead last (313 out of 313 players) in fWAR with -0.7, and it’s almost painful to watch him struggle while Truist Park makes a mockery of his demise. It’s a horrific look for all parties involved, and it can’t go on for much longer.
Beyond Ozuna’s porous performance, better options have begun to emerge themselves. Eddie Rosario isn’t hitting great, but his peripherals suggest positive regression is in line. Sam Hilliard has been a revelation early in the season. Kevin Pillar has been a valuable reserve piece, and Michael Harris II should be back very soon. With Travis d’Arnaud also set to return at some point over the next month, I don’t see any reason Ozuna should find himself in the lineup when the Braves have all of their horses.
This wasn’t something I was eager to write. I wanted to give Marcell Ozuna his fair chance this season, but nothing he’s shown has given the Braves any reason to keep him. He’s a sunk cost, and once Harris and d’Arnaud return, I’m not sure how the team continues to roster Ozuna. They’ve surprised me before with their stubbornness, but his time in Atlanta must be coming to an end.
Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire
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